Train When You Don’t Have To

Let’s face it, we are all busy and people are often trying to rush things and then get frustrated when it does not go right first time, every time. A typical example is getting your dog used to getting in the car, you are rushing for the school run or need to take your dog to the vet, in your head you are thinking this has to happen now! In reality, do you really need to take the dog on the school run? Can you walk to the vets or would it be better to pay the missed appointment fee for a non-urgent issue and rather than stressing your dog? When we start to rush and get stressed our behaviour changes and often make the dog more nervous. How many times have your rushed and it has gone wrong then when you are just going for a leisurely walk your dog hops into the car as if it is easy? They are reacting to our behaviour.

People often feel like they have to complete a behaviour sequence, when I have to ask why, they often do not have an answer other than it is what they would expect from their dog. This is when I ask: how have you trained the behaviour? Often this is confusing for people as they see the car as a nice thing for the dog because it means a nice long walk and why wouldn’t the dog like that? However, the dog might not understand this.

The trick to successful training, is to train when you don’t have too. Train your dog to get used to a muzzle, hop in and out the car, walk round a garden centre when you don’t need anything, go and sit outside a café with a takeaway cup so you can walk away if you need to. This way there is no pressure on either you or your dog and you can build up the behaviour as and when it suits you. When you are training it is best to work in small sessions that are successful without stressing your dog rather than one long session.